'Working it out': the educational careers and aspirations of students on an AVCE travel and tourism course at a college of FHE

Morrison, Andrew Robert (2007). 'Working it out': the educational careers and aspirations of students on an AVCE travel and tourism course at a college of FHE. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c008


This study investigated the decision-making processes, and the factors affecting them, in relation to education and labour markets of young people aged 16-19 following a full-time Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education (A VCE) vocational education course in Travel and Tourism at a College of FHE in the West Midlands. In particular, the study sought to evaluate the evidence for the persistence of structurally related (race, class, gender) inequalities in youth post-16 educational attainment against the theory of individualization in youth transitions.

The research adopted a case study approach involving:
• questionnaire survey of 72 first and second year students of the A VCE;
• three focus group interviews with second year students of the A VCE;
• eleven individual interviews and one double interview with second year students of the A VCE;
• nine individual interviews with members of the AVCE teaching staff.

The study developed a theoretical model to represent the decision-making processes of students both prior to and within further education, adapting and developing the concept of 'institutional habitus. The model also recognises the relationships between macro (society), meso (institutional/organisational) and micro (individual) factors.

Principally, the study found evidence of differences between students of the white majority group and students of the minority ethnic groups with regards to experiences of further education and orientations towards higher education and labour markets. Secondly, class and gender-based differences within the minority ethnic student samples were also perceived. Evidence was also found for the class and gender-based positioning of students by the teaching staff with consequent implications for the reproduction of classed and gendered inequalities. These findings indicate that research into student aspirations and decision-making must recognise the continuing influence of the prior structural factors of the students and their personal histories, and also the impact of their institutional experiences, particularly as mediated by the teaching staff of an organisation.

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